Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Where does the time go? It's Tuesday afternoon, 4:40 PM in Surabaya, Indonesia. I've been on the road for about 10 days and what a wonderful trip it has been. I've conducted two media workshops for radio managers, covering broadcast journalism and news management. The participants were a joy to meet. They're business people but they've built radio station in a somewhat hostile environment. There are cultural and religious issues, government censorship, a sometimes chaotic economy, a lack of adequate human resources and of course a basic need to also support community development. It's a tougher environment than US stations face.

We also talked about the continuing challenge for radio to remain relevant in a world dominated by television news and increasing levels of Internet access in Indonesia.

The trip has been mostly work but I've had fun with the people I've met. As always, I've tried new foods--including jellyfish and chicken feet. Perhaps the greatest was trying durian, a large and smelly fruit grown in much of Southeast Asia. Durian is covered with sharp prongs on the outside. You break open the fruit and pull chunks of flesh from the oversized pod. It's a different taste--I really can't describe it. Go to Youtube and watch one of the videos for a look and description of what others have said.

As always, the trip has left little time to ponder on the blog about the people I've met and things I've seen. Indonesia is an interesting country--clearly not the sort of transitional place I have previously visited. But outside of the major cities, fundamental issues of development remain. The press is reasonably free but there's still a free speech chill from criminal libel complaints. I hope that I can come back.

I suppose that's enough...it's almost time to board.

Safe travels to all. I'll overnight in Singapore at a transit hotel then catch my morning flight home.

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